News that Kelsey Plum set the Washington women’s basketball record for most made free throws in a game Sunday didn’t get the reaction you might expect.
Huskies coach Mike Neighbors talked about wanting the freshman to keep working hard. Plum flicked at the stat sheet as she slumped in a chair for postgame interviews.
“If I only could make a jump shot,” she said after scoring a season-best 35 points to help UW upset then-No. 21 Colorado at Alaska Airlines Arena. Plum was 18 of 19 from the free-throw line to set the program mark. She focused on her 7-of-18 shooting from the field — not good enough.
Plum could still see the rushed three-pointer she took against the Buffaloes’ defense that was blocked at the release. And the pull-up jumpers that clanked off the rim.
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It’s a natural maturation process. Plum, a high-school All-American, is adjusting to a quicker college game and new teammates. But her standards are high.
So, Plum adjusted her schedule to get back into the gym to shoot more. She’s averaging a team-leading 19.5 points on 39.5 percent shooting from the field.
“It’s tough in the season to get a lot of extra shots up but before and after practice, I work with coaches to try to get my rhythm back in terms of that midrange game,” Plum said. “Hopefully it’ll start to pay off in the next couple of weeks.”
That should sound scary to UW opponents. Plum and junior guard Jazmine Davis form one of the Pac-12’s top three scoring tandems. They already have two 30-plus point games apiece. The UW record in a season is five, by Jamie Redd, UW’s all-time leading scorer.
Plum and Davis, who averages 18.9 points, could easily add to the list during the team’s trip to play the Oregon schools this weekend. Washington (10-7, 3-3 Pac-12) faces Oregon State (10-8, 2-4) on Friday and Oregon (9-8, 0-6) on Sunday.
Oregon allows teams to shoot 46.1 percent from the field. OSU has allowed opponents to average 77.2 points in its past five outings.
“They can be really, really explosive,” Neighbors said of Plum and Davis. “With the number of minutes they play and the number of possessions some of the teams in our league play with, the pace, they could conceivably do it (score 30 or more points five times this season).”
Scoring against Oregon State could be the most difficult. The Beavers start a 6-foot-6 center, Canadian sophomore Ruth Hamblin. She’s fifth in the country in blocked shots (3.8). OSU is second in the Pac-12 in rebounding with a plus-7.4 margin.
Still, little has stopped Plum this season. She’s scored in single digits only once and has scored 20 points or more in seven games. The offensive production won her four Pac-12 freshman of the week honors, including this week.
“I don’t care at all, I just want to win” Plum said.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org